Bryant University’s 29th Annual World Trade Day on May 21 will focus on encouraging businesses to take a broader view of their potential and move boldly forward. A highlight this year will be the unveiling of Manufacturing Rhode Island, a Web portal geared to build on this year’s theme of Back to the USA: Partnering for Global Success.
The portal is the culmination of more than a year of contacting businesses throughout Rhode Island to update and collect information about them and offering that extensive background as a foundation for partnerships and expansion.
“We will introduce the portal and work with businesses after World Trade Day to find export opportunities and to reduce costs to make them more globally competitive,” said Ray Fogarty, director of Bryant University’s Chafee Center for International Business. “Companies can get information on supply-chain management, freight forwarders, lowering energy costs and a wide variety of resources that can help them grow their business.”
The portal, which can be found online at www.manufacturingri.com, is a project of the Rhode Island Manufacturing Renaissance Collaborative, a public/private partnership of organizations that includes the Chafee Center, R.I. Commerce Corporation, Rhode Island Manufacturers Association and the former Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service, now called Polaris MEP, for Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
That online portal will be kick-started by panels and speakers focused on guidance for creating and growing trade opportunities.
While luncheon keynote speaker Jakob van Zyl, associate director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, may seem a somewhat unusual choice, that’s exactly the point, said Thomas A. Tanury, chairman of Tanury Industries in Lincoln, who is a member of the 2014 World Trade Day planning committee.
“We need to stimulate imagination. We need to think outside the box,” said Tanury, who was responsible for bringing in van Zyl as keynoter. “There may be opportunities for Rhode Island businesses to do work for NASA, but the goal of having Jakob van Zyl is more motivational and inspirational.”
It’s about taking on new challenges and gaining inspiration from accomplishments such as NASA’s success with space exploration that Tanury sees as important to boost the state’s economy.
“We want businesses in Rhode Island to open their aperture and have a wider field of vision,” said Tanury, who has been involved in Bryant’s World Trade Day for more than 20 years. “The big companies know how to make it happen, but World Trade Day, for the most part, is for small businesses.”
This year’s theme of bringing jobs back to the U.S. after decades of outsourcing is a choice Tanury Industries made years ago.
The company specializes in high-end metal finishing, predominantly in precious metals. The company does not manufacture, said Tanury.
In the 1980s, Tanury Industries had an electroplating company in Taipei, Taiwan.
“We felt as though we had developed, over decades, the secrets of electroplating,” said Tanury. “We had people working here we brought in from Taipei. We trained them and educated them for work at our company, then they’d go back and work for us for a few months in Taiwan and leave for another company. We only did that for a few years.”
Tanury Industries is seeing firsthand many of the reasons U.S. businesses are bringing their operations back home.
“A fair amount of our work today is repairing bad work from China,” said Tanury. “It could be jewelry, eyeglass frames, writing instruments. Maybe they’re flaking or they’re not done to the right specifications.”
The theme of taking a broad perspective on business potential is at work at Tanury, which has developed some specialty markets, including yachts and private planes.
“Right now we’re working on a 747, on all the interior metal components, which are aluminum,” said Tanury. “The plane has two levels, with a custom-made … staircase. We’re doing 24-karat gold plating on the railing system. It’s for a head of state.”
Tanury has a strong European client base, an example of one of many Rhode Island businesses succeeding in the increasingly global marketplace.
“There are many opportunities for collaboration and our panels will highlight some of those,” said Linda Woulfe, assistant director of the Chafee Center.
Morning keynoter Peter Friedmann, Washington, D.C., counsel for CONECT, or Coalition of New England Companies for Trade, will lead a discussion on Inside the Beltway: An Unvarnished Perspective on the U.S. International Trade Agenda.
Topics also include Europe: An Update on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Business Opportunities in Asia, Your Export Team, Mitigating the Risk in Global Business and Rhode Island Marine Trade Opportunities.
“New this year are advice clinics,” said Woulfe. “For certain segments of industry, participants can meet one-on-one with someone experienced on a specific topic.”
Advice clinics are on subjects that include banking, finance and insurance, and import and export regulations.
World Trade Day 2014 begins at 7:30 a.m. on Bryant’s Smithfield campus with registration, breakfast and an exhibitor showcase and wraps up with networking from 2:15-4 p.m. •